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Our story

How was the Economate concept born?

In 2016, frustrated with such limited budgets to purchase raw timber, Technology Teacher Katy had an idea. What about getting any off cuts from a local builder? She was teaching an NCEA level 3 project on sustainability and yet using raw timber purchased alongside stripped pallet timber.

Our first Economate

Local Kitchen manufacturer Ladd Joinery were on site at school so a quick chat later Katy had an understanding of the materials he was throwing away on a monthly basis. While it was primarily melamine coated MDF she saw this as a perfect chance to explore how the material could be used.

She tested it for durability outside in all weather conditions, she laminated sheets together and cut at angles to really test it’s materiality.

A year later and Onslow college has saved thousands of dollars in accepting over 20m3 of waste material. Furthermore business owner David Ladd has saved around $150 on each skip load he no longer sends to landfill, instead bringing a trailer load to the school every couple of months. From here a perfect relationship of mutual benefit was born.

Collaboration with Zealandia and Predator Free Wellington

The materials proved perfect for a collaborative project between Onslow College and Zealandia, further expanding out to include Predator Free Wellington. Students in Years 10 now produced Kaka boxes, Weta hotels and animal tracking boxes for use in the sanctuary. Predator Free are utilising the production to save charity funds and the students learn not just about sustainability but design and application and problem solving.

Economate grows, landfill contribution shrinks

2018 saw the expansion to include Friday Homes and the introduction of around 30m3 of mixed pine and H1.2 treated timber perfect for students creating outdoor furniture.

Growth through networks

Katy, an active committee member of two national technology teaching associations will be expanding the Economate way out to other schools in the region. Supported by business development guidance from the Akina Foundation, Economate is growing. We’re introducing an accreditation scheme to demonstrate corporate social responsibility for construction companies and a subscription base for both providers of waste (construction firms) and users of waste (schools and community organisations).

If you fancy being a part of the Economate way get in touch with us today. Economate is a not-for-profit social enterprise managed by Katy and Nick.  Together we can help divert waste and support a cradle to cradle approach to material. Everyone wins when they become Economates.


  • Presented at Falling Walls Labs, NZ Royal Society 2018
  • Winner of People’s Choice with Onslow College – Wellington Park(ing) Day 2018
  • Winner of professional section at AWE 2018 sponsored by Hutt City Council
  • Presented at the Pacific Climate Change Conference 2018
  • Winner of the Akina Foundation prize Wellington Climathon 2017
  • Presented at the NIDA conference, Sydney 2017
  • Exhibited outcomes at Massey University 2016